Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday Fishing Report: Signs of Summery Things To Come

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The rain that started yesterday lasted all day and all night. It was supposed to rain today, and it did a little in the valley--the pavement was wet when I got home--but up at Cutthroat Lake it stayed dry.
I was there because of my success yesterday. I mounted the full expedition, float tube version.
I had just launched and gotten up to trolling speed when I caught the first, the best, and the only fish of the day. I enjoyed it.
Another female. The photo is poor; she was so big that she barely fit in the net, and she was so round and fat that she kept rolling off my lap.
I caught her on the same soft hackle that did the trick yesterday.
I trolled on with trusty soft hackle, but I didn't get any takers. So there then ensued a veritable cavalcade of flies. I figured it was a good chance to see if I could find the right one. But I didn't.
Through it all I marveled at the sky. The sky this Spring has been spectacular. Today was no exception.
The wind would pick up now and then, but there were long periods of calm when I expected things to pop. But they didn't.
But I saw a lot of fish. They would hang motionless two feet below the surface and ignore everything I threw at them. Or they would cruise slowly by, seemingly taking something just below the surface or in the surface film, but ignore every emerger or floating nymph I threw at them.
They weren't spooky, just disdainful. In fact they were so unspooky that they would swim around the float tube without a second look. I didn't know this one was there until I kicked it. It stayed right there, swimming under the float tube and brushing up against my flippers.
I tried to catch it, although it felt a little like trying to hook your dog. I had an emerger on with the indicator above it about a foot. I flipped it near the fish and dragged it over to get the emerger right on its nose. It calmly tilted up and took a big bite of the indicator.
Crazy fish. Naturally, at least the way I think, I promptly tied on a big surface fly, in this case a cricket, and dapped, swam, popped, and twitched it over and around the fish. No response.
It was as though I did not exist.
Or it was as though the fish had said to his buddies, "Hey, watch what this guy does when I bite his indicator!" And they were all laughing their fishy laughs at me and my ridiculous cricket and even more ridiculous technique.
Look, you can see the smile on its face.
But, no hard feelings. It was a thoroughly entertaining trip, a good break from Trout Lake, especially now with its high, turbid water and crowded conditions.
And I saw signs--that random splashy take up along the snags at shoreline--of wonderful summery things to come.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday Fishing Report: Nooner

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It was another lunchtime foray to Cutthroat Lake. Just checking things out. It continues cool and cloudy, and rain was predicted.
I had on a soft hackle and indicator from my last trip to Trout Lake, so I started with that. Just a few minutes in I saw a big heavy female cruising my way along the shoreline. I plopped my rig in front of her, and she took off. I thought I had spooked her, but she was heading straight for the fly.
What a beauty. She was so full of eggs she couldn't do much more than thrash in place. But I didn't mind.
Then the rain came and settled in for a stay.
I stayed a little longer--long enough to get fairly wet. I took the indicator off and both wind drifted and stripped the soft hackle.
But there would be only one hookup today.
I was more than satisfied with that. It was a long time coming, and it was worth the wait.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Fishing Report: The "W Word"

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I spent a half day at the lake today. I took the canoe this time. My waders are pretty much blown out, and after freezing in the float tube last time and getting wet in the process I was in the mood for as dry and warm as possible.
The waders are Allens--new brand--and my brother John picked them up for me at the Denver show a year and a half ago for twenty bucks. Introductory offer. Hello. Good bye. I sealed the seams a few months ago, so I don't think it's worth doing again. Now these "new" waders leak worse than my old ones. So I'll break out the old ones and take some seam sealer to them.
I should be ready to go when the warm weather hits. Should be any month now.
Here's a glimpse of what I see as I start to climb toward the lake. Look how fast those clouds are moving.
And here's the lake shortly after I launched. Hey, wait a minute. It was calm as could be just a minute ago.
There were still a few fish working when I got there, the tail end of the morning rise, apparently. I caught this shiny fellow, and then hooked an even bigger one and got him all the way to the canoe before the fly popped out. Dang.
Then--but I'm not going to say the "W word."
It got slow. For a long time. I paddled around to a few different spots--with difficulty--and found it slow there, too. I got a couple takes, but the--the thing--made it difficult to keep a belly out of the line, so both times my hookups were weak, the fish swam toward me creating more slack before I could get a tight line on them, and off they went.
So I took a break and watched some Spring Azures wisely staying out of the--the "W word."
I stayed at it after that, and have to admit I enjoyed watching the play of light and shadow on the ridges and mountains as the--the "W word" blew the clouds along. It was something to do.
Then, just when I had to leave, the--that thing--backed off and fish started working. I finally got a solid hookup and netted this one.
It looked like maybe it was going to stay calm for awhile, maybe the rest of the evening. Just when I had to leave. So I stayed an extra ten minutes hoping for just one more trout--that never came. Then, just when I decided I really had to go, the dang "W word" kicked up again and made my paddle back to the truck way more challenging than necessary.
I don't make this stuff up.
Now I'm going to hit the sack so I can get up earlier and get there with plenty of time to fish before the--well, you know.

Cutthroat Lake

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I guess I won't call this a "fishing report." It's more an update to say that I keep checking on the Lahontans at Cutthroat Lake. That requires throwing them a few flies to see if they've decided to eat yet, but it hasn't really been "fishing."
Once they start eating I'll mount a regular expedition.
Still, I enjoy being there, and bank fishing has a soothing charm all its own.
It's also beautiful up there. These are images from two recent trips. One was over the Noon hour, and I had to dodge roaming rainshowers. The other was in the shank of the evening when only the swallows were eating.
If you're into these kinds of things you may want to check out the third photo. The swallows were feasting on swarms of big midges along the shoreline, and you can see both swallows and midges silhouetted against the evening sky. Cool.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Fishing Report: Cold

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Down here in the valley it was a fine day. There were showers, but they skirted around us.
It was warm. Cat basking warm.
Up at the lake a squall was blowing through. The wind was strong and from the north. A cold wind.
I heard someone say the fishing was good until the weather came up. Until I got there.
Suffice it to say I tried a variety of approaches to lure the wily trout.
None worked.
I found a sheltered nook and huddled for warmth. None was to be found.
If you had told me while I was freezing in the river in March that I would be freezing in the lake in May, I would have socked you in the jaw.
But you would have been right.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday Fishing Report: Playing In the Rain

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We've had some nice rains this Spring, good for our semi-arid region. Yesterday was to be a sunny day, and today it was supposed to rain. Well, it rained yesterday.
It started out sunny but the clouds rolled in about Noon while I was fishing with a local kid. I had taken him out in the canoe at an area bass lake--his choice. He's been asking me to take him fishing for four years, and I've always put him off for one reason or another. But he's moving to Hawaii at the end of the month. He doesn't want to; he has to. It's the fallout of a long custody dispute, and it's falling right on top of him. So I took him.
Since I would have the canoe on the truck I figured I ought to hit my lake for the late afternoon and evening. I had everything I needed except waders. I always take them when I expect rain, but it was going to be sunny, you see.
The local river is running high and muddy, and so are area streams. My lake--let's call it "Trout Lake"--is one of a chain of four lakes in a wildlife area, all connected by a stream. I came in from the north this time, and that stream was over its banks in spots. There's a place where it crosses under the gravel road through a culvert, but the culvert was under a foot of water and the road was awash in three places. I should have taken a picture, but I was trying to get the old truck through safely.
I wasn't surprised, then, to find the lake higher than I've ever seen it. This put-in is one of my favorites. I've camped here, and sat by that fire ring warming myself beside a crackling apple wood fire and listening to the frogs sing down by the water's edge. Those frogs would have been in my lap yesterday.

I launched--first time with the canoe at Trout Lake this season--and headed out a ways from the head of the channel. There were passing showers, but nothing heavy. My jeans--no waders, remember--got damp, but dried a bit before the next shower drifted over.
One good thing was that there was no wind. The other good thing was that fish were rising. The water was murky, so I tied on an orange caddis nymph and hung it from an indicator. Not too deep.This hefty trout had no trouble seeing it, and took with authority. He made a nice fight, choosing to run deep rather than jump. The showers were coming more fequently and lasting a little longer. But they always quit for awhile.

Meanwhile, it was a beautiful, peaceful evening, if you don't count the human population of the lake. And their dogs. And the hum of their generators. It tends to get a bit crowded this time of year.
They were fishing around in various craft, carrying on loud conversations across the water. Later they were noisily making supper and building smoky fires. There were a couple groups of gentlemen, all having a grand time away from their work and families. One group seemed to be youngish--I heard one guy talking loudly about catching "yearlings"--and the other was oldish. The old guys turned on some music, something I generally find annoying at the lake, but to my surprise they were playing--I kid you not--The Weavers. I heard "When Will They Ever Learn," Michael Row the Boat Ashore," and other classics of the folk genre. They mixed in some Byrds, some Linda Ronstadt, and some Patsy Cline for good measure.
What do you know, the old guys are my age.
I kept fishing--to musical accompaniment--trying an assortment of flies until this little guy took the Pheasant tail soft hackle.
Dude, whadya think? Yearling? Things slowed down after that. When it started to rain again it slowly increased in intensity. I trolled a bead head Wooly Bugger in a big circle around the upper lake. I had one big bump, what I thought was a take, but when I picked up the rod the fish was gone. After that, nothing. And it kept on raining.
I trolled my way down the channel to see if there were any fish working there. There were some, and I fished John's Cove for awhile, with no takers. The breeze was picking up and swirling some, making it difficult to see the indicator, so I tried casting and stripping for awhile. Nothing. It was still raining steadily, and it didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon. I had a big soft hackle nymph on, and decided to troll it to the take-out and call it a day. On the way, though, I saw a couple more nice swirls, so I stopped and changed my rig to an emerger under the indicator. I cast a short line so I could see the indicator better.
But after about three casts a big rumble of thunder from the south made me think my first plan was the right one after all. So I paddled in--practically right up to the truck--and got things stowed and loaded.
I was pretty wet. My jeans were soaked, as were my boots. My hat was soaked, and rain had run down onto my head and down my neck, so my shirt was pretty wet, too. I sat there in the truck and realized it had really been fun.
What I thought about was how, when I was a kid, we used to put on our swimming suits and go outside to play in the rain. And now, my favorite pastime gives me an excuse to still go outside and play in the rain, grownup or not.
Next time I'll probably bring my waders. Or maybe, just maybe, my swimming suit.